Psalm 120:3-4 What shall be given to you, and what more shall be done to you, You deceitful tongue? 4 Sharp arrows of the warrior, With the burning coals of the broom tree.
Lord, bring to my deceiver all You plan for him. Lord, You are my avenger. Punish him just as I have suffered through him.
Lord, the problem for me is that I often don’t recognize the foe or that he has lied to me. When there is a problem I often dismiss it and run from it or say that it is not there. But it is there Lord. My foe is real and the lie, though cloaked, is real and destructive. Lord, open my eyes—enough at least to pray. Let me see enough to know how to pray, so that the enemy will be taken down and I will be delivered. Lord, You deliver me. Be my avenger. Cast him out and let me be free of all deception, so that I will be free to see Your truth.
See explanatory note on Psalms 120, by Martin Girard, on an earlier post
Exposition by The Treasury of David
Verse 3. What shall be given unto thee? What is the expected guerdon of slander? It ought to be something great to make it worthwhile to work in so foul an atmosphere and to ruin one’s soul. Could a thousand worlds be bribe enough for such villainous deeds? The liar shall have no welcome recompense: he shall meet with his deserts; but what shall they be? What punishment can equal his crime? The Psalmist seems lost to suggest a fitting punishment. It is the worst of offences—this detraction, calumny, and slander. Judgment sharp and crushing would be measured out to it if men were visited for their transgressions. But what punishment could be heavy enough? What form shall the chastisement take? O liar, “what shall be given unto thee?”
Or what shall be done unto thee, thou false tongue? How shalt thou be visited? The law of retaliation can hardly meet the case, since none can slander the slanderer, he is too black to be blackened; neither would any of us blacken him if we could. Wretched being! He fights with weapons which true men cannot touch. Like the cuttlefish, he surrounds himself with an inky blackness into which honest men cannot penetrate. Like the foul skunk, he emits an odour of falsehood which cannot be endured by the true; and therefore he often escapes, unchastised by those whom he has most injured. His crime, in a certain sense, becomes his shield; men do not care to encounter so base a foe. But what will God do with lying tongues? He has uttered his most terrible threats against them, and he will terribly execute them in due time.
Verse 4. Sharp arrows of the mighty. Swift, sure, and sharp shall be the judgment. Their words were as arrows, and so shall their punishment be. God will see to it that their punishment shall be comparable to an arrow keen in itself, and driven home with all the force with which a mighty man shoots it from his bow of steel, — “sharp arrows of the mighty”. Nor shall one form of judgment suffice to avenge this complicated sin. The slanderer shall feel woes comparable to coals of juniper, which are quick in flaming, fierce in blazing, and long in burning. He shall feel sharp arrows and sharper fires. Awful doom! All liars shall have their portion in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone. Their worm dieth not, and their fire is not quenched. Juniper coals long retain their heat, but hell burneth ever, and the deceitful tongue may not deceive itself with the hope of escape from the fire which it has kindled. What a crime is this to which the All merciful allots a doom so dreadful! Let us hate it with perfect hatred. It is better to be the victim of slander than, to be the author of it. The shafts of calumny will miss the mark, but not so the arrows of God: the coals of malice will cool, but not the fire of justice. Shun slander as you would avoid hell.